This article was first published in iamgreek.nl
You can find this article also in Greek here.
Since the day I came in Maastricht I noticed and finally realized how important is to have a bike when you are a permanent citizen in a Dutch city. That’s why I keep talking about the subject “bike” in my articles. Today I want to mention and share with you 7 of my personal conclusions about buying, having and conserving a bike in the Netherlands.
Be careful of the place and the person you will buy your bike. Of course someone that moves to a new city doesn’t know which places are good to find a bike and which are good bike suppliers. But if you check various shops (web-shops included) for some days and if you will try to check how expensive are various bikes regarding their condition (ask other people who recently bought bikes or know about bikes) then it’s more difficult to buy a completely bad bike.
Bikes in Holland are a really big business and because of bikes some guys here are –literally – rich! So, the easiest thing here is to find people who want to make a fortune by selling bikes! In other words, you are in the Netherlands so a crappy bike can easily be sold in a really expensive price to someone who immediately needs a bike and he/she has not any other obvious option.
Dutch super-markets are usually cheaper than Greek ones but the situation regarding bikes is completely different! For example, if you want to change a bike’s bladder here you would easily pay 25 euros when in Greece you will give 5 to 10 euros maximum. Also, from my personal experience I can tell you that a new tire here could easily cost you 50 euros when in Greece you could give 20 euros and buy a truly qualitative tire.
Don’t rush and don’t give your money to someone completely unknown or to someone who cannot be trusted. I would suggest you to give some more money and buy a good bike from someone you know or someone who a friend suggested to you, so if something goes wrong you could easily find him/her and ask for a refund or a repair.
The previous conclusion doesn’t count when we talk about stolen bikes bought from streets. It is not such a common phenomenon but some friends already experienced it: one day while they were walking a guy with a bike came closer to them and asked them if they want to buy a bike which costs a few euros. Some years ago a friend of a friend of mine bought from a random guy a bike for 7 euros! This way of buying bikes is – of course – illegal but most of the times is a good buying experience: bikes are usually in a good condition because they are possibly stolen from international students – native citizens know where, when and how should park their bikes! So I cannot judge people who are looking for these kind of “strange” guys who sell cheap bikes, while I know that nobody wants to experience the image of a broken lock and an invisible bike!
In Holland, one lock is equal with no lock at all! With two or more you could start feeling more secure but don’t forget that you should always leave your bike in places that you have been informed they are safer than others. Many people received warnings for “risky” places to park bikes and they chose not to pay attention to them. They kept parking their bikes in those places and one day they couldn’t find them. However, there were some people who were not aware of these “risky” places, so they learnt from their own experience!
If you are looking for “the country of bikes” then you are in the right country, you are in the Netherlands! No matter what inconvenient and unpleasant situations you could experience, it is worth to remember the whole bike thing in Holland in a good way especially if you are a short-time visitor here – permanent citizens maybe know too many things to keep magic of bicycling alive inside them. A ride by bicycle – especially close to sunset – is enough reason to understand why Dutch people love so much biking every hour and every time of year.
As about me: Yesterday, for the first time, I felt that I am starting to adore cycling especially after an image that stuck in my mind: the moment I was crossing – midnight with a lot of cold – the stone bridge of Maastricht and I was getting “blind” by the lovely lights from the opposite bridges which were mirrored on Maas river’s water. A little later I realized that I haven’t felt in such a romantic and sensual way even when I was up, on the Eiffel’s Tower. And I am talking as more objectively as I can.